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Legal Information: Federal


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January 30, 2018

What are some additional requirements to self-petition under VAWA as a child of a USC or LPR?

In addition to meeting the abusive relationship requirement explained in Who is eligible to self-petition?, you must meet all additional requirements listed below if you are self-petitioning as the child of an abusive US citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR):

  1. You are a child abused by his/her USC or LPR parent:
    • You are the child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a USC/LPR;
    • You are the child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of someone who was a USC/LPR but s/he lost his/her citizenship or residency within the past two years related to an incident of domestic violence;1 or
    • You are between the ages of 21 and 25 and can show you qualified before you turned 21 and that the abuse was at least one central reason for not filing a self-petition before turning 21 years old.2
  2. Battery or extreme cruelty: Your USC/LPR parent must have battered you or subjected you to “extreme cruelty.”3 Extreme cruelty is any form of power and control and includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    • being a victim of, or threatened with, an act of violence, forcible detention that results in physical or mental harm, psychological or sexual abuse, rape, molestation, incest, forced prostitution, and acts that may not appear violent but are part of a pattern of violence.4Note: You must have been abused in the United States, or if you were solely abused abroad, then your parent must have been an employee of the US government or a member of the US uniformed services (military) at the time; 5
  3. You have lived with the abuser at some point;6 and
  4. If you are over the age of 14, you must be a person of “good moral character.7 Note: Even if you believe that you have committed an act which may affect your ability to prove good moral character (for example, certain crimes), please talk to an immigration lawyer with experience in VAWA to see if there is an exception available for your situation.

Note: Another possible immigration remedy for a child who was abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). It is important to know that you can still be considered to be “abandoned” by one parent even if you are living with, and being supported by, your other parent. If SIJ classification is granted, you may qualify for lawful permanent residency. You can read more about the requirements on the USCIS.gov website. Please talk to a lawyer who specializes in SIJS for specific advice.

1 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iv); INA § 204 (a)(1)(B)(iii)
2 INA § 204(a)(1)(D)(v)
3 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iii)(I)(bb); INA § 204(a)(1)(B)(ii)(I)(bb)
4 8 CFR § 204.2(c)(1)(vi)
5 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(v); INA § 204(a)(1)(B)(iv)
6 INA § 204(a)(1)(A)(iv); INA § 204 (a)(1)(B)(iii)
7 8 CFR § 204.2(e)(2)(v); 8 CFR § 204.2(e)(1)(i)(F)